The problem of soccer hooliganism has its roots deep in social development and is associated with aggression and maturation rituals. Furthermore, the media has negatively impacted the problem by publicizing, and exaggerating hooligan activities.
Although the exact definition of hooliganism is rather open-ended, it can be characterized as violence toward opposing fans, players, and refs or destruction of objects inside or around the stadium. Violent incidents that occur following a game that fans perpetrate are also often considered acts of hooliganism (Soccer 2).
What we know today as hooliganism began in Britain in the late nineteen-sixties. Riots, field invasions, beatings, and deaths were characterized by the media as "football hooligans," and thus came era of violence to soccer. As shocking as the violence was at that time, soccer and violence have gone hand and hand since the thirteenth century. The game used to be played for a variety of reason disputes over land, conflicts between neighboring tribes or just simply to engage in manly aggression. Often times in Scotland, a "football" match was a precursor to a raid into a neighboring town. Since this time, soccer has been refined greatly especially in1828, when Dr. Thomas Arnold established formal rules for the game. The game continued to be refined, and was seen as a game of the upper class until the game gained popularity with the middle class in the early twentieth century. (Soccer 4)
Although sporadic violence occurred from 1900 to 1960, it was attributed to nothing more than overzealous, or drunk fans. In the 1964 soccer season, fan began to take on a rather peculiar pastime called "taking ends," where fans on one side of the stadium would rush the opposing fans' side and try to take control of their section. These acts of violence, team identification, and ritual aggression developed in a few short years into the social epidemic of soccer hooliganism. (Soccer 7)
So what has caused these soccer fans to become hooligans? This question has been the cause of major debate in the sociological community. There have been many different opinions to the cause hooliganism, however many of the theories are somewhat compatible with each.
One proposed cause is retaliation against the professionalization of soccer. During the 1950's and 1960's soccer developed from a sport that was played by local soccer clubs, to a spectator sport where fans watched professional athletes. It is thought that this change in the sport may have alienated many fans making them feel excluded from their favorite sport and pass time (Taylor 32).
Sociologist Ian Taylor states that feelings of alienation may cause hooliganism, which is a symbolic attempt to regain control of game from wealthy upper class that now control the sport (Taylor 34). Hooliganism attempts to regain some sense of inclusion in the sport by instead of being players, they support their team by cheering and in general show support. The charters of "supportership" seem to present however; hooligans fail to abide by social behavior that is acceptable in the stadium situation (Clarke, 12). In general hooligans are attempting to identify with their team like other fans, however their show of support does not fall within acceptable social realms. And sometimes they are involved in competition of their own in the stands. "While the points are being won or lost on the field, territory is won or lost in the terraces (stands). The "ends" away record (how good it is at taking territory where the home supporters usually stand) is as important, if not more, than their team's away record. Similarly the chants, slogans and songs demonstrate support for the team and involve an effort to intervene in the game itself, by lifting and encouraging their team, and putting off the opposition
The violence between the sets of fans is part of this participation in the game part of the extension of the game on the...
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Taylor, Ian. " Class, violence and sport: The case of soccer hooliganism in Britain." Sport, Culture and the State. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982
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